Blackberry Cowl

It has been cloudy, snowy, and cold here. I mean, really cold! Freeze your (Raynaud’s) fingers before you know it cold. Knowing this was on the way I bought food and gas a couple of days ago and then settled into the house with cat-magnet blankets with space heater to do some power knitting. This morning Greeley, Colorado, a city an hour’s drive north of me set some sort of record at -32 degrees Fahrenheit (with wind chill it was -47!!). It wasn’t that cold here, but it was still cold.

Wooden bear modeling cowl
This afternoon it warmed up to a blistering +12 degrees F. so I sneaked out to take a shot of my newly finished Moebius cowl. This was knitted with Hedgehog Fibres Merino Singles, which is a squishy single ply worsted weight yarn. Really yummy around the neck.

I finished another of the leftover WIPs from last year this week. This one is a Moebius cowl using garter and blackberry stitch in a pattern that I sort of winged as I knit. I like it! Here’s what is crazy about Moebius knitting: the cowl is knitted from the middle out, and the pattern is “up” on one side of the cowl, and “down” on the other.

Stitch detail of the cowl
See what I mean? The tiny jog dead center in the scarf is where I started the round in the knitting, and then on the right side of the middle garter section the blackberry stitch is “up”, and on the left you are looking at the backside of the pattern. I like both sides and I think that the yarn looks good in either stitch variation.

The cowl is just the right length to wrap twice around my neck to stay warm, and it also will drape nicely when just worn as it is.

Cowl
Because it is a Moebius the cowl has the same pattern facing up at the outside edges of the cowl and on the side that is displayed in the “shawl collar” folded over. Clever, huh. It also folds nicely at the bottom and behaves itself when you wear it. This color is “off” since I took this picture inside. The yarn really is fabulous jewel tones.
Yarn detail
See.. beautiful jewel tones. This colorway is called Dragonfly.

I like the blackberries the most, so I will wear the cowl the way I took this picture, but it is just as easy to wear it with the other stitch pattern (which looks vaguely woven) facing out.

So, this is my own pattern. I really like how it came out, and I have some cool Madelinetosh yarn that is dying be a cowl too, so I’m fighting an urge to immediately cast on to make another one. I wonder how that yarn will look in blackberries? This yarn was worsted weight and the new one is DK. Will it make any difference? It’s like an experiment!! I used a little more than one skein on this cowl; maybe I can come up with some cool fingerless mitts with the rest of the yarn. Lots of knitting ahead of me.

It warms up this weekend, but looks like I’ll still be on the power knitting drive!

Have a good weekend everyone.

 

Bad Start, 2016 (but I made a great sweater anyway. Ha!)

I know that I kind of did this to myself. I was really pushing things as I got everything baked, stitched, knitted, wrapped, mailed and cleaned for Christmas. It was wonderful. My family was all here on the big day, the dinner was perfect, and it was even snowing lightly making it a true White Christmas. A wonderful, wonderful day.

I was just exhausted afterwards.

Still, I made some after-Christmas plans. I wrote out some ideas for the end-of-the-year blog post and made a list of projects to tackle in the coming weeks and months. Great stuff: weaving, spinning and quilting made the list along with the usual plethora of knitting items.

Cat Face
No New Year’s for us. Mom got sick.

The Monday after Christmas I woke up sick. Influenza!! I had had the vaccine, but I knew that it was unlikely that I would get the full benefit because of my immuno-suppressant drugs. By New Year’s Day I literally couldn’t get out of bed. The next day I dragged into the after-hours clinic and was sent home with antibiotics and some serious cough medicine. Thus a cascade of severe unhappiness was launched. Here’s the short version: bronchitis; removal from immuno-suppressant drugs; allergic reaction to the first antibiotics; more antibiotics; a full rebellion by my digestive system; low blood pressure; dizzy, dizzy, and more dizzy; help: I can’t even manage to knit; a flare of my systemic sclerosis; and a complete helping of why can’t I breathe right yet??? There. That was the whole month!! In fact, it is still going, but I am definitely on the mend.

Take home lesson: it is possible to survive on yogurt, cranberry juice and Christmas cookies. Maybe I should write this up as a new fad diet. 🙂 It is also good to have a pile of books waiting to be read. An emergency stash of chocolate is a given, right? Oh yeah, one more thing: GET YOUR FLU SHOT, PEOPLE!!

Two weeks ago I pulled out my partially completed Daelyn Sweater (by Isabell Kraemer) and got started knitting on it again between naps. Last week I finally finished it. Oh, my goodness. What a wonderful sweater. It kind of looks like a sweatshirt…

Daelyn Sweater
See what I mean? The ultimate comfy weekend sweater. This baby is knit from the top down and there isn’t a seam anywhere in it. I decided to knit the XL size (43.75 inches) so that I would have at least 6 inches of positive ease; because of the garter stitch shaping it hangs really nicely and is actually kind of flattering. This view of the sweater is pretty boxy looking, so I decided to try to get a selfie…
Sweater front
Do you know how hard that is? Ugh! Still, this gives you a better idea of how the sweater actually hangs. Once it is on it doesn’t look wide and boxy anymore because of the garter stitch side panels. My swollen fingers are due to the systemic sclerosis flare. I want my drugs back!!
Raglan Sleeve
and just check out the raglan sleeve and the back view! The garter stitch in the back  makes it really comfy and stretchy. The back of the sweater is a little longer due to short rows shaping which also helps make it hang nicely over my rear end. 🙂
Cat chomping yarn.
Did you notice the cat hair on the sweater? Yep. That’s a thing as cat help and yarn chomping happened fairly frequently as I knitted… MacKenzie purrs and kneads like a madman (madkitty) in these sweater attacks so it is hard to heartlessly chase him off. I think that he especially liked the Brooklyn Tweed Shelter yarn that I used.

Shelter Yarn

I have to give a shout out to this yarn. You almost have to work with this stuff to believe it; it is soft, squishy and very light weight. My finished sweater is soft, warm, comfy, looks and hangs like a bulky sweater but weighs very little. It is almost a shock when I lift it to put it on. There are little bits of veggie matter in the yarn, but I think that is because it hasn’t been over processed. It was fairly easy to pull them out while I worked.

When I got ready to knit my sleeves I began to panic about running out of yarn. I ordered two more skeins online that were from another dye lot. I blended the new yarn in by knitting every other row for 8 rows (it did happen on the sleeves..) and you absolutely can’t see the change in yarn. I could have just skipped the blending. How’s that for quality control! Here are the Ravelry notes for my project if you want more info.

So, here it is whole month late but I am starting to think about my new projects for the year. Lots to do. You weren’t very nice to me at the start, 2016, but let’s see what we can get going now. Behave yourself!!

 

 

FO: Drachenfels Shawl is Done!

Over the weekend my wrists got better and I did a little knitting (3 – 5 rows)  to exercise my hands. Yesterday the braces came off and my wrists were A-OK again, Yea!! I don’t quite know what happened, but what the heck. I got to work and finished up the Drachenfels shawl.

Shawl
I’m in love! The yarn (Anzula Squishy) is 10% cashmere, but it seems like more. The shawl has great drape (knit on size 4 needles) and the variation in the yarn makes it kind of glow when seen in the flesh. This baby is big and it just wraps me in squishy warm softness when I put it on. 
Edging
and the edging! Look at this. I used four colors in the shawl instead of the 3 called for, and the black is the 4th color. I just love this edging; the colorwork gives the edge a little weight and helps the drape. The I-cord bindoff is done on needles 2 sizes larger (I used a size 6) so that the edging has the perfect amount of stretch.  Here are my notes on Ravelry.

This shawl has been going on for awhile. Instead of posting all the pictures again I thought that I would give the links here in case anyone wants to look back at my Drachenfels’ baby pictures.

The shawl needs some blocking but since it is so big I’m not going to wet block it. Besides, I am just dying to wear it and who wants to wait that long? I’m just going to hit it with some steam,  smooth it out a little, and put this yummy baby to work.

I’m off to wind some yarn. Must knit more!!

Drachenfels: Making Progress

It has been a really good week knitting-wise. The weather is cooling down at last, I’m caught up on most of my major projects, and the new season is starting up on television. I find myself knitting outside in the garden, at the doctor’s office and even during the football games (Go Broncos!!) The leaves are turning at last and I am churning out my Drachenfels shawl.

Shawl
I’ve made the transition from the charcoal grey to the slate gray yarn. It’s subtle but should look better when I get to the solid slate portion of the shawl. I put in one black garter ridge at the midpoint of the charcoal/plum section of the shawl. Later on I will use the black to do the I-cord bind-off. Here are the project notes on Ravelry.
Cat on shawl
Of course as soon as I put the shawl down for the picture MacKenzie moved in. One of my favorite shows to watch while knitting is the A&E production of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. You know that quote from the book/film: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” MacKenzie believes that it is a truth universally acknowledged, that an unattended knitted object must be in want of a cat.
Cat chomping yarn
and loose yarn is made for chomping. He especially likes this cashmere blend Smooshy by Anzula Yarns. He and I have had several conversations about this over the last week…

At this point I removed him from the picture shoot.

Knitting
Here’s the cat hair embellished closeup of the black yarn ridge and the transition from charcoal to slate grays. What do you think?

You can’t see it in the pictures, but this yarn is knitting up really soft and should have a great drape when done. I am using a smaller yarn than the pattern was designed for (fingering instead of sport) and moved down to size 4 needles (3.5mm) instead of size 6 (4 mm), but this shawl is coming out plenty big!

The forecast is for cooler weather and rain showers this weekend, and there is a Broncos game Sunday. I plan to really crank out some knitting over the next couple of days. The shawl should be big enough both for me and the cat soon. 🙂

 

The Yarn Warrior

Last night I knitted like crazy and got my Reyna shawl (by Noora Laivola) finished. I wet blocked it overnight (hoping that sleeping kitties won’t notice it…) and this morning I took it outside to the garden swing to finish it up while I was watering the lawn. Of course my cat MacKenzie couldn’t resist helping out.

Cat chomping shawl
Oops! I didn’t realize he was hanging out under the swing… At least he’s predictable in that he never missed an opportunity to chomp!
Shawl in tree
Here it is rescued from the cat. Isn’t it a fun mix of garter stitch and mesh? Here are my project notes on Ravelry.

This shawl was a fast and easy project, but I learned a lot of new things while working on it and it led to some new insights. After all, while I love to knit, I really am more driven to play with new yarns, patterns and ideas more than I need a new shawl (or pair of socks for that matter). Every new project is an opportunity to learn something new!

I first selected this pattern because I had a skein of wickedly soft and colorful yarn in my stash. I knew that the colors would go with everything in my wardrobe, but there were so many of them in the skein that I needed a way to show them off without nasty pooling or something that looked muddy.

Yarn
This is Zen Yarn Garden’s Serenity 20 in the colorway Confetti. See what I mean about the colors? 
Closeup of Shawl
I knew that garter stitch plays well with multicolored yarn, and I was hoping that the mesh would break the colors up a little more and help each one shine. Mission accomplished! The yarn looks really different in the two sections of the shawl and the colors each stand out.

There are YO stitches to each side of the center stitch in the garter section. Hard to see aren’t they? That’s because they are hidden by knitting in the back loop of the YO on the wrong side row. Who knew? By hiding the YO stitches the garter stripe stands out better between the mesh segments.

I also noticed a difference in the mesh. Normally K2tog stitches slant to the right. In the mesh section of the shawl the K2tog creates a slant that goes to the left. Check it out!

Mesh stitch
See the left slant? This was knit by [yo, K2tog] stitches that repeated every other row (all stitches purled on the wrong side).
Mesh closeup
The right slanting mesh was created by the opposite type of decrease stitch: [yo, ssk] repeated across the row. Once again the stitches on the wrong side were purled. The designer balanced the direction of the mesh slant around the center stitch of the shawl. Cool! 
As I was knitting along I realized that my ball of yarn was starting the shrink a little faster than I wanted it to. Yikes! How can I be sure to use as much as possible while leaving enough for the last three garter rows and then the BO?  Well, this is when a yarn warrior really digs in and takes control.

Row Tracker
Look at what Noora gave us in the pattern! Wow, isn’t this a nice idea. In fact, it made me think that all patterns should be organized as a table with the rows, stitch count, the pattern, weight of the yarn and a place to make tally marks. I mean, why does the entire thing have to be written out? See how I started tracking how much my ball of yarn weighed every 4 rows? I decided to switch to the last 4 rows as soon as I had only 8 grams left. (8 rows of the mesh section were skipped)
Yarn on balance.
This is how many grams of yarn I had left over after binding off.

See, it isn’t about the final object (OK, it is a little). It’s about being a YARN WARRIOR!! Capture the learning and master the craft. Be at one with the cashmere and bond with your fellow knitters.

Isn’t this why we all do it?

 

 

Berry Time: July Socks and Mom’s Cobbler Recipe

I’ve been knitting like crazy on my July socks since the end of the month is almost upon us. Last night I finished up the first sock. Cute. Way cute!

Sock
The first sock is done. Look at the cute garter stitch heel and toe!
Close-up of sock.
The lace opens up when the sock is on my foot. I really like this one! The pattern is called Lacy Cable Socks by Veronik Avery. Here are my project notes on Ravelry.

The colorway of this yarn is called “Fire Dragon”, but they sure do look berry colored, don’t they. I had berries on my mind when I went to the grocery store and ended up with some yummy blackberries and raspberries in my basket. Time to make my favorite berry cobbler!!

My mom always grew berries. When I was a child there was a row of Boysenberries in the yard. All summer long mom sent us out with buckets to pick the berries which she turned into pies, cobblers and cases of jam that became Christmas presents for all her friends and co-workers later on. We loved those berries; we ate a lot of them while we were picking and they have become one of the flavors of summer for me.  Here is the recipe that mom adapted for her berries.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup soft butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt (optional – I never include it!)
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 cups freshly washed berries
  • ¼ cup sugar
Cobbler
Mom’s Berry Cobbler: I mixed two small packages of berries to make this cobbler. The total weight was 12 ounces; about 2 cups.

Heat oven to 375 oF (350 oF in altitude above 5,000 feet)

  • Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Add the flour, baking powder (and salt) to the bowl on top of the creamed butter and sugar mixture. Make a well in the flour mixture and add the milk.
  • Mix everything together well. There will be some tiny lumps but don’t worry about them.
Batter in the pan.
The batter will need to be spread in the bottom of the pan. I use a spatula to get the job done. Don’t forget to grease the pan ahead of time!
  • Spread the mixture in the bottom of a greased loaf pan.
  • Rinse and clean the berries. (If the berries are large like strawberries cut them into smaller pieces.) While still wet put them into the pan on top of the batter.
Berries on top of the batter.
The berries need to be wet when placed on top of the batter. They shouldn’t be dripping wet, but if a little water comes with them when you pour them onto the batter it will be OK.
  • Sprinkle the sugar on top of the berries in the pan.
Sugar on the berries.
I used a 1/4 up of sugar to make this cobbler as the berries are pretty sweet. If you are using tart fruit/berries add a little more.
  • Bake for about 45 minutes. (batter should brown across the cobbler)
Baking cobbler.
Here’s the fun part of this recipe. While baking in the oven the batter bubbles up past the berries and forms a crust on top.
Browned cobbler.
Here is the cobbler almost done. I let it go a little longer in the over to make sure that it was completely cooked in the middle. This cobbler baked almost 50 minutes in my mile high oven (at 350 degrees)
  • Enjoy!
Finished cobbler
I ate my cobbler with a side of vanilla Greek-style yogurt. Yumm!!

Time to get another serving of cobbler (for a late breakfast!) to munch on while casting on the second sock. Gosh, I just love July. 🙂

Wednesday Update: Shawls!

I am definitely in a shawl knitting phase. I just finished Edith’s Secret, and now I am cranking out two more shawls using bright yarns. This is fun! Here is what I’m working on:

Amazing yarn.
This overly bright yarn decided that it wanted to be a simple garter stitch shawl, so that is what is happening to it. After a week of knitting I have used about half of the skein.
Shawl
There sure is a lot of color here, isn’t there! The shawl looks nice with several of my winter tops, so it is all good. This pattern is 3S Shawl by Amy Meade, and the yarn is Becoming Art Cielo Fingering in the colorway Midnight Mountain. Here’s my project notes on Ravelry. I’m going to put a picot edge on this if I don’t find a simple garter lace edge that I like.
Shawl
I’m also working on a larger asymmetric shawl called Sidere by Hilary Smith Callis. This one is demanding more attention so I am only knitting on it in small spurts. The shawl has short rows, which is why the pattern of bumps is more spaced apart to the right of the picture. The yarn is Knitted Wit’s Single Fingering in the colorway Madge. Here’s the project notes on Ravelry.

That’s it. There has been a lot of midnight knitting going on with these babies. 🙂 I need to get them out of the way so that I can get going on the next sock of the month (since it is April 1st and all…) I’m really having trouble deciding on one sock as I found a lot of cool yarn when I went stash diving earlier this week. Then there were the patterns in one of my sock books. How to pick just one?

Isn’t it great to have a stash!!